Trailhead start

Mt. Gower located 6 miles southeast of Ramona is a must hike if you consider yourself an avid hiker in San Diego County.  Even if you are not an avid hiker this hike is a great way to spend an afternoon out in nature.  Located in the 1574-acre Mt Gower Open Space Preserve, Mt Gower rises in the north high above the San Diego Country Estates. Mt Gower is the highest point in the preserve, climbing to 3,103 feet above sea level. With numerous routes and a variety of climbs to the summit, Mt Gower has outstanding views of nearly all of San Diego County’s high-points and beyond.

This is the second attempt at Mt. Gower as the first time was in September and way to hot, 100 degrees at 11am, to consider such a hike.  This time around the temperature was perfect as at hike’s start it was 60 degrees and even at hike end the temperature only climbed to 70 degrees.  The lower temp absolutely makes for a much more comfortable hike, although lots of water is highly recommended and I would highly suggest doling this hike in late fall to early spring.

As you begin the hike you get a great view of the summit of Mt. Gower and even much of the trail as it winds, dips and climbs all within site.

Heading into Scwartz Canyon

It then crosses the creek and winds up to the water tower and heads east along the ridge.  The ridge has a couple of undulations of about 100 to 400 feet in elevation. After this, the trail crosses the brush area and up another rise to a meadow.  To this point you will have hiked through various terrain changes consisting of low lying chaparral, numerous tree types, rocky vastness as well as narrow dense brush lined paths.  This time of year (November) the colors of the trees are fall in fall bloom with orange and red hues abounding!

Then hikers cross the meadow and climb up another rise to the mantle below the peak.  The mantle is a solid rock outcrop.  From here you are on your own as you look up to the peak of Mt. Gower.    On this day as we looked up at the peak we noticed two hikers descending.  We kept a keen eye so that we could retrace their route and as they came upon us we asked about the climb.  They were quick to say that although you pretty much are in a “mountain climbing mode”, the scramble up the rocky slope is an easy one so long as you watch out for the outcroppings of rock and or dirt to guide your steps and way.

Scramble to the Summit of Mt. Gower

Although not long in distance, it does offer a quite riggourous challenge to your ascent to the summit and completion of part I to this hike, part 2 being the trip back.  The scramble up is well worth the climb as once you get to the summit you are rewarded with amazing views at every degree you look.  360 Video of the Summit!    Although this day was cloudy you could still see the faint outlines of downtown San Diego as well as all the prominent peaks in the county.  I’ve talked to other’s who have made this trek to the top and they have said that many days you can see Mt Baldy in the distant northeast as well as far as the eye can see due east and out to the dessert floor.  Regarding distance of this hike, to the summit, the GPS reading on my iPhone pedometer app said 3.98 miles.


Stonehenge Look Alike!

After spending enough time for lunch and taking in the views we launched our descent back.  I always feel that the descent offers as many challenges if not more than the ascent on most hikes and this was surely evident here as scaling the rocky slope down to the solid rock mantle outcrop must be done slowly as footing, which I found out the hard way can be precarious in spots.  Once down to the solid rock shelf, take in again the unusual rock formations and views of distant mountains and vistas.  This area is quite unique and one can see imitations of stonehenge as well as with the keen eye openings to old mines and caves.


By tracing your steps back you will soon find the trail that took you to this point.  Again, once you are on the trail it is easy to follow, well carved and provides reassurance of the way back.   At this point your legs will remind you that you have put in a solid days work and accomplished a long difficult hike!


The Mt. Gower hike ranks right up there with Mt. Woodson, The Big Laguna Trail and the North and South Fortuna’s in Mission Trails Regional Park as one of the most physically challenging hikes in the county while providing amazing scenery, diverse geography, varied vegetation and a huge sense of accomplishment at hike’s end!

More Photos on Trail Shots!

Distance:  8 miles

Date and Time:  Saturday December 1, 2012  8:40AM to 1:40PM

Hikeability:  Strenuous to Difficult (in spots)

Water & Food: 3/4 gallon water, 1/2 bottle gatorade, lunch, oranges and snack bars